ARLINGTON (AP) — Josh Hamilton is swinging a bat again and regaining his energy after spending six days in the hospital with pneumonia.
Now the AL MVP is preparing for spring training and the likelihood of a salary arbitration hearing since the $12 million he has asked for is $3.3 million more the AL champion Rangers have offered.
"I'm counting on (a hearing) right now," Hamilton said Friday.
A hearing is scheduled Feb. 14 if the two sides don't come to an agreement on a contract for 2011, or maybe even a longer-term deal. Hamilton isn't concerned about the possibility of a hearing.
"It's not bad. I could be digging a ditch somewhere," he said. "It really hasn't been in the forefront of my mind. Either way, whatever happens, I'll be OK."
If the case goes to an arbitrator, Hamilton gets the $8.7 million that Texas offered or the amount he asked for when they exchanged figures this week. Either will be a significant increase over the $3.25 million he made last season, when hit a majors-leading .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the final month of the regular season with broken ribs.
It has been 11 years since the Rangers went to an arbitration hearing with a player.
"Our preference would be to avoid (a hearing)," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "The reality is sometimes reasonable well-intentioned people disagree, and that's why the process is set up the way that it is. ... You'd like to think we don't have to, but if we have to use it, we will."
A three-time All-Star, Hamilton was limited to 89 games in 2009 primarily because of injuries sustained crashing into outfield walls which making catches.